Tag Archives: life

When life hands you lemons

When life hands you lemons, take those lemons and return them to the grocery store. “Yeah, I just bought all of these lemons, and I want to return them.” The cashier is totally going to give you a little bit of an attitude, but whatever, just wait for the manager to come over, “You sure? You bought all of these lemons here?” he’s going to ask you. Of course you didn’t. Life handed them to you. And yeah, I know the old saying, when life hands you lemons, make lemonade. But is life handing you sugar? Clean water? I thought the whole point of this cliché is that when life hands you something that you don’t want, you have to turn it into something that you do want. Well what if you don’t have anything else? What if life only hands you lemons? Don’t tell me to just “make lemonade.” You might as well say, when life hands you lemonades, eat a really big steak, or buy a minor league hockey team, or win the lottery.


“I don’t think you bought them here. There aren’t any stickers on them. The lemons we sell have stickers on them. This is just a giant sack of loose lemons, I’m sorry.” That’s the grocery store manager again. But don’t worry, everything’s still going according to plan. Remember, you only have lemons. So if you want lemonade, or anything else, you’ve got to figure out some way to turn at least some of those lemons into something besides lemons. Otherwise it’s just lemons for the foreseeable future, and if you think drinking straight up lemon juice is tough, just wait until you get hungry later on. The only thing worse than drinking lemons is eating them plain.

“Yeah, well, they had stickers on them originally, but I peeled them all off.” That’s what you tell him. And he’ll say something like, “Well, why’d you do that?” And that’s it, you’ve got him. It might not be obvious right away, but you just won. Because what kind of a question is that to ask to a customer? He’s reaching, desperate to try to get the one up on you. But now that you’ve got him backed into a corner, keep inching closer, let him know that you’re not going to give him any space even to breathe, that if he wants to get out of that corner, he’s going to have to do something about all of these lemons.

“I took the stickers off because I was going to cook with them. You can’t peel the zest off of a lemon if there’s a sticker still stuck. You can’t roast a whole fish with lemons in the baking pan if there are little pieces of paper floating around.”

“OK, well, look, these don’t look like any of our lemons. I’m just saying, you can’t just walk in here with a bag of unlabeled produce and demand a refund.”

Of course you can. Now’s when you go for the kill. “I agree, they don’t look anything like the lemons that you usually sell. That’s why I’m returning them. Normally the quality is a lot more consistent. I just assumed that they’d all be the standard, premium lemons that you and I are clearly both used to. So I peeled them, washed them off, and then the first one I cut into, it was gross, way too many seeds. I want a full refund.”

And depending on how stubborn this guy is, you might have to go back and forth a few more times, but at this point the verdict is all but verbalized. It’s just a matter of how long this guy wants to stand there and pretend like he’s in charge of a situation that he’s not. Eventually he’ll give up, signal to the cashier to give you a refund, and there you go, that’s cash. You can buy whatever you want with that cash.

So next time life gives you lemons, don’t get caught standing around waiting for life to give you a pitcher and ice and a mixing spoon. Turn those lemons into money, and then buy a Coke. Because lemonade sucks. You ever drink two glasses of lemonade in a row? That’s like heartburn central. Do yourself a favor, and stay away from lemonade.

I could be bigger than Jesus

Lately, whenever I think about Jesus Christ, I can’t help but take note of the fact that I’m about the same age that he was when he started getting really big. Do I think I’m going to overthrow an empire and start a chain of events that will shape world affairs two thousand years from now? Probably not. But it’s possible. And just knowing that it’s within the realm of possibility makes me feel like my life can’t be that bad, that it’s not too late to really make something out of myself.


And besides, I have so much more going on for me than Jesus did. Like, Jesus didn’t have the Internet. I’m sure turning water into wine was really impressive at the time, but if I found myself in his situation today, first, I’d go up to the host of that wedding, I’d be like, “Come on dude, who throws a wedding and doesn’t buy enough booze?”

And then I’d take out my phone and say, “SIRI, tell me where the nearest liquor store is.” Right? In fact, if I were at that wedding two thousand years ago, not only would I not have been impressed at Christ’s little miracle there, but I’d be worried. “Hey Jesus,” I’d say, “you know we’re living in an age where potable water isn’t exactly a luxury. Maybe two thousand years from now some of the world’s luckier inhabitants will be able to easily draw drinking water from metal pipes conveniently located throughout their houses, but that’s not the case here.”

In fact, I’d venture to guess that most of the people that attended that wedding died. They got blackout drunk on miracle wine and they all woke up the next day totally dehydrated, I’m talking roaring hangovers. Which wouldn’t have been a problem if twenty-something instant gratification JC maybe thought out his actions further than just the present moment.

“It’s fine, it’s fine,” he probably tried to reassure everybody, “just get me some of that leftover wine and I’ll turn it back into water.” And everybody was like, “Are you serious? It’s all gone. You drank most of it. Don’t you remember tying those two wineskins to your hands, insisting that nobody cut them loose until you drank both of them?”

All I’m saying is, history is written by the winners. Or, in this case, by the survivors. Notice that not once during the rest of the entire New Testament does Jesus dare turn anything else into wine. In fact, I think that there’s enough evidence later on that this early miracle actually held him back.

Because what about that time that he multiplied the fishes and loaves to feed all of those people? Again, what was wrong with people back then? You’re going to travel far away from home to the middle of nowhere to see an ultra-popular rabbi on his tour of the Holy Land, and you’re not going to bring food? You’re just going to stand around and wait to starve to death?

My point is, Jesus gave them food, great, bread, fish, delicious. But what about something to drink? “My Lord,” they probably begged him, “everyone’s complaining that, while the food is delicious, they can’t seem to find any water or wine to wash it all down.” And Jesus was probably like, “I … I can’t. I can’t perform miracles on water and wine. I made a promise. Never again!”

I’m just saying, Jesus was a big deal. But until he showed up when he was something like thirty years old, he was a relative unknown. And then he showed up and it was like, “Who is this guy?” just like Barack Obama did, “Yes we can!” Just like me, just like I can, maybe. I’ve got to come up with something, but the important thing is, there’s still time. I still have a chance to change history forever. Who’s with me?

Plan F

If things ever get too out of hand here, if the stress of my life for some reason swells to the point of unmanageability, I have an escape plan already laid out, a series of careful actions I’ll take in case of an emergency. Because you never know when life is going to hand you lemons. It could pelt you with something like forty-five lemons at the same time, really gross lemons, full of seeds with a really thick oily skin. And when you reach for your sugar to be all positive and make lemonade, life might replace your sugar with salt. And the salt might be cut with white sand. And the water you use to mix everything together could be from a well that’s been contaminated by a chemical spill.

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Like I said, I’m ready for that. I have a Plan B, I’ve even got Plans C, D, and E all laid out. But I’m talking about Plan F, where something terrible happens in my life and I can’t even talk about it, that’s how bad it is. Plans A through E aren’t really options at this point, and I’ve got to split. I know exactly what I’ve got to do.

Because when the going gets tough, well, that’s when I’m out. You won’t even know it. I’ll tell everybody that I’m going on a three-week vacation, which is what I like to think of as a three-week head start. “Where’s Rob?” nobody’s going to ask, because I’ll set up my Facebook account to start posting random pictures from travel blogs, “I’m having such a great time on vacation!” I’ll have them all scheduled to post in advance at random times throughout that window.

And then when I never come back, when my boss starts calling my by now defunct cell phone number, I’ll be totally gone. I’m going to grow out a huge beard and shave my head so that way I won’t be immediately recognizable. I’m definitely going to move away to a different state, if not a new country altogether. Or maybe that’s what I want you to think. Maybe this warning is all a part of my plan, to make you believe that I’ve headed somewhere far away. Maybe I’ve set up a new life down the block, all of that hiding-in-plain-sight business.

Either way, if I ever disappear, just assume that I’m OK, that life here spiraled out of control, that I have a plan, and that plan is very detailed and intricate, that I’d like to explain more, but if I really went ahead and told you the nuts and bolts, then you’d be able to find me, and why would I do that? What’s the point of having an emergency escape plan and then telling everybody where to find me?

Just, if I disappear, and years from now you’re out traveling somewhere far away, or close to home, and you think you see somebody that looks like what you think I’ll look like years from now, it’s not me. It’s just someone that happens to look like a future version of me. Because once I set Plan F in motion, you’ll never see me again. Poof.

Time-control powers

I always thought that it would be cool to have a superpower where you could freeze time around you for however long you wanted. The best part about having this power would mean that I’d never be tired every again. Not really, not to the point where I wouldn’t be able to immediately take a nap. As it is right now, it’s always a struggle to get to sleep at a reasonable hour, and then it’s equally difficult getting up in the morning like I imagine adults are supposed to do.


But with my time-stopping powers I’d just be like – snap! – time is frozen, let me enjoy another two hours of rest. And I’d get up and go about my day as if I’m running on a full tank of gas. Because I don’t know what it’s like for everybody else, but I totally need eight hours of sleep. Anything less and I feel like something died deep down inside of me, that I’m carrying a heavy weight, pulling me to the ground, “Go to sleep,” it’s constantly whispering in my ears, “Right here is fine, just close your eyes and relax.”

And the world just isn’t set up for impromptu napping. Like, every once in a while I’ll be at work in the restaurant, I’ll see the linen truck pull up, they’re dropping off giant sacks of freshly cleaned white napkins, and all I want to do is clear a space and lie down on top of those bags, a giant soft pillow that I could use to take a load off, just for fifteen minutes, I could get away with disappearing for twenty minutes.

But like I said, that’s not how it works. Your boss catches you asleep in the backroom, you just know he’s going to say something like, “Hey Rob, if you don’t have epilepsy, you’re fired.” That’s why I need those time control powers. I could do it whenever I wanted. I could sleep in the back for an hour, two hours, however long it might take for my batteries to recharge all the way.

And these powers would come in handy for so many other aspects of my life, stuff that doesn’t involve sleeping or napping. Like, every time I go to the movies, I always wind up drinking my Cherry Coke way too fast. Then I have spend the second half of the film squirming in my seat, waiting for the credits to roll so I can relieve my swollen bladder. If I could just freeze that moment, I wouldn’t have to be so uncomfortable.

Or if I’m on a game show someday, like Jeopardy for example, I’d wager everything on the Daily Double, every time. Why? Because if I don’t know an answer, I could just – pop! – make everything around me stop while I take a walk to the nearest library and check out all of the answers. (Unfortunately, I’m assuming my cell phone and the entire Internet would be frozen along with everything else, so I’d have to resort to an old-fashioned printed and bound version of Wikipedia.)

Don’t you hate it when you’re not paying attention and you miss your subway stop? You have to get off the train and walk all the way over to the other side of the tracks and wait for the next train heading in the opposite direction. It takes forever. But if I could stop time, I’d just pry open the door and walk along the tracks back to the station that I just missed. There’d be no danger of any oncoming trains, or any rats or anything like that, because they’d all be frozen.

The only thing is, all of those stolen moments have got to add up, right? An hour here, ten minutes there, all of the sudden people are going to start asking me, “Rob, how is it that, despite the fact that you always look so unbelievably well rested, you seem to get older and older every time that I see you?” I’d get so dependent on stopping time for even the most mundane of tasks that eventually I’ll have lived an entire parallel lifetime in between the minutes while everyone around me is stopped in their tracks.

So I guess, unless I could add a stipulation to my powers, that I don’t age while time is stopped, I’d have to reluctantly turn down the ability to freeze time. And it sucks because, the more I think about it, there’s no way around it. If you’re moving around and using energy and everything, your body has got to be doing its thing, converting food to fuel, shedding old cells, everything that characterizes the whole aging process. It feels like it would be a cop-out to add the no-aging clause, almost like that would be its own superpower. It’s like when people ask you to pick one superpower, you can’t say flight and invisibility. It’s one or the other.

But other than the whole shaving-years-off-of-your-life-by-taking-naps-at-work thing, it would be really cool. Because I’m thinking about it, and I don’t know, is it better to have a long life where you’re really tired, or a shorter life where you’re constantly feeling refreshed?

Life begins at thirty

I’m thirty now, and everything’s different. Like before I was thirty, like yesterday, I would never have said anything like, “Life begins at thirty.” But now I am thirty, and I’ve changed, I’m a different person now. So now I totally say stuff like that. I’ll say it right now: Life begins at thirty.

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And so I feel like I’m a newborn again, albeit in a thirty-year-old man’s body, but it’s like I’m seeing the world through a completely new set of eyes, a thirty-year-old set of eyes, a new thirty-year-old set of eyes,and I can’t believe all of this stuff that I’m noticing that I’ve never noticed before.

I remember I was working at this restaurant a few years ago, and I don’t know how the conversation got started, but I wound up talking with one of my managers, about life, about what we want to achieve and how we want to not be working in restaurants anymore. And he said it to me, exactly what I said before, he looked at me and said, “Rob, life begins at thirty.”

And I said, “Oh, OK, cool,” and I smiled and nodded my head. But I was thinking in my head, what the hell is that supposed to mean? Did he really just say that to me? That life begins at thirty? And I thought he was so stupid, and that I was so superior, I was looking down at this guy, come on, thirty, what does that even mean?

But now I’m thinking back on that very conversation, and I get it. Like I totally get it. Life begins at thirty. Do you get it? If you do, you’re definitely thirty or older. And if you don’t get it, it’s pretty obvious that you’re not thirty yet. And if you’re under thirty and you’re saying to yourself, “Well, I’m not thirty yet, but I see where you’re coming from,” you’re lying to yourself, because you don’t see where anybody or anything’s coming from.

Because if you’re not thirty, technically your life has yet to begin. Yes, you’re walking around and you’re taking in oxygen and surfing the Internet and eating breakfast and, so, to look at it from a distance, you might think, or I might think, this person is alive. But you’re not alive. Not yet. Not until you get to be thirty. Until then, you’re just taking up space, thinking thoughts that aren’t even real thoughts.

Like remember what I was talking about earlier? About how I didn’t get it until today? Well, now I get it. Before, I didn’t even think there was anything to get. In fact, I’m going through all of my previous experiences, all of my memories and feelings and, it’s like I’m watching a rerun of a really old TV show, something I haven’t seen in forever, like I can’t remember the main character’s name or anything.

And it doesn’t matter. Because it’s so true, that life does not begin until you’re thirty years old. Now I finally feel like I’ve got it figured out. I woke up this morning, I opened my eyes and the first thing I said was, “Ohhh, OK, I get it, I’m thirty, I’m alive now, it all makes sense.”

And my wife turned over from her side of the bed and said, “What is it Rob? What makes sense?” And I looked at her, she’s still twenty-nine, she won’t be thirty for another twenty days or so, and it’s like I barely recognize her anymore. “Nothing, go back to sleep honey,” she’ll be there soon enough, she’ll be thirty, she’ll get it, I won’t even have to say anything, I can just picture it now: I’ll get up earlier than she will on her thirtieth birthday, I’ll wait for that same expression on her face, upon awakening, she’ll look at me, I’ll look at her, there won’t be any need for any further communication, and we’ll just slowly nod our heads in agreement, saying without saying, I get it, we both get it, this is thirty, this is how life begins.